Mr. Nick's Blues Mafia
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Mr. Nick's Blues Mafia

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The best kept secret in music


"Artist Spotlight (Nick "Mr. Nick" David)"

Mr. Nick's Blues Mafia, winners of the 2004 Boston Blues Challenge, feature Nick David on vocals and Harmonica, Kevin Labrecque on guitar, and Fess Moore on bass. They were also awarded 2004 “Blues Artist of the Year” by Jam Magazine and crowned Boston's "Best Unsigned Blues Band" in 2004.
To put it another way, they are a devastatingly powerful and seriously authentic Blues band.

To see and hear Mr. Nick's Blues Mafia is an exciting experience for any true Blues lover. It is seldom that one encounters such a cohesive combination of authentic Chicago style Blues coupled with the kind of raw power and drive that explodes from this amazing ensemble.

Nick David, the group's dynamic frontman, not only sounds, but looks the part of the perennial Bluesman. His presence provides just the right touch of classy but hard edged persona to this award winning band.

Barrelhouse Blues ("BB") recently had the opportunity to speak with Nick David about his musical journey. Here is what the man had to say...

BB: Let’s talk a little bit about your past. What got you started on your musical journey and drew you into the Blues?

ND: The first thing I suppose would be my parents. One of my earliest memories is sitting on my father' lap while he played and sang "Fishin' Blues" to me. In addition to my father being a musician, my mother had an incredible record collection. From James Cotton's "100% Cotton" to Taj Mahal's "The Natch'l Blues", from Roomful of Blues' "Hot Little Mama" to "The Genius Of Ray Charles," I was exposed to this music at a very young age. Not to say that I haven't gone through different stages of course, or that is all I listen to, but Blues music has always been what's in my heart.

BB: Who were your inspirations along the way?

ND: The fact that my father would sometimes sing and play his guitar in the house and that I was always surrounded by these great sounds coming out of the stereo may have been enough to inspire most folks and may well have been enough to inspire me. But, I grew up in Oregon. Which, believe it or not, has one of the heaviest Blues scenes in the country. Not only that, but my parents took me to see a lot of shows. I remember my father taking me to this smoky little college bar called Taylor's in Eugene when I was about 5, to go see Robert Cray. Along with Taj Mahal, Robert was one of my early heroes. One of my first records was what was then released as "Too Many Cooks," Cray's first album. It was released on Tomato records, and when they went under it was rereleased under the title "Who's Been Talkin." I knew every note, every word, every subtlety on that record before I was ten. When I was a teenager I used to go regularly to see guys like Curtis Salgado, Paul deLay, Terry Robb, the Lloyd Jones Struggle. Salgado and deLay were both big influences on me.

BB: What are some of the musical highlights of your career thus far?

ND: This whole last year has been one giant highlight as things have just been steamrolling for us. I'd have to say though, that the greatest musical highlights of my career thus far all came within two weeks of each other, and all in July of this year. The first one happened in the second week of July when I picked up Paul deLay from the Manchester Airport. When I found out Paul was coming over here to do the North Atlantic Blues Festival with Mark Hummel's Harmonica Blowout I called him up to see if he wanted to come a little early, stay a little later and fill some of those open dates. He agreed, I booked the dates and we (the band and I) started getting together to rehearse some of Paul's original stuff. Not only did we end up doing three shows together while he was here, I got to spend the better part of a week just hanging out and getting to know Paul. I can say he is as interesting and genuine of a person as he is a musician and it was a privilege to hang out and play with him. Two weeks later came the second highlight, winning the Boston Blues Challenge. That was a huge boost to our morale, has done great things in the way of letting people know who we are that didn't already and has just opened up a lot of doors for us. Another major highlight of my career thus far came just two nights after our win at the Boston Blues Challenge when I was asked to sit in with Roomful of Blues. This band that so many of my heroes like Duke Robillard, Curtis Salgado and Ronnie Earl have been a part of over the years was asking me to sit in. Roomful is my dream band. I got up, we did a couple tunes from a couple different Roomful albums. My voice never sounded better and it was just a Cinderella kind of night.

BB: Back to the present. You sing, play harp and drums. Quite a diverse arsenal of talent. We’re guessing that harp and vocals are your choice for a means of expression, allowing you to front the band. How did you get into drumming and is it something you’d like to explore more over time?

ND: I got into to drumming trying to show - Barrel House Blues

"Blues Bosses"

W hen the local band Mr. Nick's Blues Mafia took to the stage at the Boston Blues Challenge last month, few thought they'd take top prize. Not even the band members themselves thought they'd win.

"The other bands there sounded phenomenal," said Kevin Labrecque, the band's guitarist. "They were really top shelf."

But the judges thought Mr. Nick's Blues Mafia sounded even better. They took first place at the contest and won the chance to compete at an upcoming blues festival in Memphis, Tenn.

"It's a chance to get national exposure," said Nick David, 31, of Concord, the lead singer and founder of the band.

A former carpenter, David started the band four years ago in an effort to become a "self-sustaining professional musician." So far the band has recorded two CDs, Uncut Gems and La Bluesa Nostra. They play gigs around New England - including at Penuche's Ale House and the Barley House in Concord - and on Long Island.

Having taken first prize in the Boston Blues Challenge, Mr. Nick's Blues Mafia will get the chance to record again. Along
with a $1,000 prize, the band won recording time at a Cambridge studio. If they win the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in February, they'll get another $1,000 and the chance to play at the W.C. Handy Awards, the Grammy's of the blues world.

Although all three permanent members of the band - their drummer right now, Brian Martin of Concord, is a substitute - have played other kinds of music, they all have a soft spot for the blues.

"As a bass player, it really gives you a chance to get in there and lay down the groove," said George "Fess" Moore, 48, of Contoocook.

Labrecque likes how he can make each piece his own. He said he never plays a piece the same way twice.

"There are certain types of music where you have to replicate exactly what you hear on the recording," said Labrecque, 29, of Henniker. "Like, if you were playing something by Lynyrd Skynyrd, it would have to be just like the recording. But with the blues you can make a personal statement."

For David, playing blues is like going home.

"I grew up on this music," he said. "My parents listened to it: James Cotton, Muddy Waters."

Not only is the music a familiar sound from childhood, it has a purity that you can't find in many styles these days, David said.

"It's universal and it's honest,"he said. "Blues is all about the feeling, it's not about flashy production."

The band endured two rounds of competition at the Boston Blues Challenge. The semifinals took place over four nights with four bands playing each night. The winners from each night, and one wild card band, advanced to the finals.

Mr. Nick's Blues Mafia ended up as the wild card band. Although they didn't win their night of competition, they had the most points of the 12 bands that didn't make the finals.

Once they ended up in the final night of competition, Moore said he wasn't that nervous.

"It kind of felt like any other gig," he said.

Despite their success, neither Moore nor Labrecque plan on quitting their day jobs. (David is a full-time musician and plays with another band in Manchester.) Moore works as an electronics engineer in Lebanon and Labrecque is an automotive technician.

Even if they do win the international competition, the band members say it's more about playing and getting heard than being famous.

"Right now, it's just about enjoying the music," Labrecque said.

The five-song Uncut Gems by Mr. Nick's Blues Mafia is for sale at Pitchfork Records and Strings and Things. The group's other CD is being re-released in the next few months. For more information, visit
- The Concord Monitor

"Uncut Gems EP Review"

Mr. Nicks Blues Mafia “The Uncut Gems EP”
Artist: Mr. Nicks Blues Mafia
Title: The Uncut Gems EP
Produced by: Nick David and Tim Pike
Recorded at: Black Moon Studios
Released: 2003
Reviewed by James LeBoeuf

I had the opportunity to see Mr. Nicks Blues Mafia about three months ago. My family and I were going to a party in Exeter New Hampshire. I was told there would be a “Blues Band” playing at the party. I have to admit my expectations were low for the band. I was listening to Little Walter on the radio, as I pulled up to the dirt road that lead up to the farm. As I got out of my car, I was hearing what I thought to be more Little Walter. As I walked up the dirt, I was pulled along by some great sounds. I found the source of this sweetness. There, set up in the garage, was “Mr. Nicks Blues Mafia, laying it out. Needless to say I planted myself right in front and took it all in.
So I was excited when I received a package from Mr. Nick. I opened it and popped the CD “The Uncut Gems” into the player. Out of the speakers danced a piano that reminded me of a Dr. John boogie. The song, “Hot Damn” rides smoothly along the verse dancing in a southern fried rumba. As the chorus hits, the music draws up into a swinging clip. Great tempo and feel changes mark this song as well as the whole CD. Next comes “Jaw Dropping Woman”. Barrelhouse piano whips the band up and they all jump in. Stop, start verses, and walking guitar/bass lines run the chorus. I swear if your feet stay still through this you might as well get into your pine box now. This is the “Blues Mafia” coming to make you get on the floor. Great Eddie Cochran guitar break. The question I had is where is the harmonica that I had heard Mr. Nick kicking on in that garage? The answer comes with “Don’t Cost Nuthin”, a great funky, trainload of stomp. Mr. Nick (Nick David) plays a mean harp and has smooth Chicago style Vocals. The guitar chunks and chinks out those James Brown licks. The bass hits that bottom. The drums keep the time without killing the groove. This band is a swinging party. The CD is marked by various tempo variations, and great lyrics. The playing is high quality. We got Nick “Mr. Nick” David on Vocals/Harmonica, “Lonely” Gus Carlson on the guitar. Travis Colby on Organ/piano. Fess Moore on bass. Finally, Ephraim Lowell on drums. I like this band a lot. They are proof that the blues is not music just about the bad side of the day. This is let’s “kick out all the windows and knock down all the doors” music. I have to admit though that the recording at times gets a little cloudy. This comment is only a minor concern as the band and their music rise right above something so incidental. You want to dance? Work got you dragging your ass? Put this music on, or better yet, get out and catch this band. You will not be able to stop smiling or sit still.

Ratings (1-5)
Performance - 5
Production – 3
Songwriting – 5
Recommend - YES - Nomasonha Magazine


2005 - Fins, Chrome and the Open Road: A Tribute to the Cadillac (compilation)
2003 - The Uncut Gems EP
2001 - La Bluesa Nostra



Formed in 2000, by the powerhouse vocalist and unorthodox harp player Nick David, this band is taking the Blues world by storm and winning over converts everywhere they play. Whether playing low down dirty blues, swingin’ like a rusty gate or givin' you some blistering soul, you'll get nothing but pure, raw, unadulterated high energy Blues music from this monster ensemble.